Breaking the Spell

  • by Daniel C. Dennett
  • Narrated by Dennis Holland
  • 12 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For all the thousands of books that have been written about religion, few until this one have attempted to examine it scientifically: to ask why - and how - it has shaped so many lives so strongly. Is religion a product of blind evolutionary instinct or rational choice? Is it truly the best way to live a moral life?
Ranging through biology, history, and psychology, Daniel C. Dennett charts religion’s evolution from “wild” folk belief to “domesticated” dogma. Not an antireligious creed but an unblinking look beneath the veil of orthodoxy, Breaking the Spell will be read and debated by believers and skeptics alike.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great Reader Actually Enhances A Great Book!

If you could sum up Breaking the Spell in three words, what would they be?

Insightful, Accessible and ... Spell-binding (not to be too cheeky)


What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Thoroughly, this book hits the points so often touched upon by his contemporaries (M. Shermer, J. Campbell, K. Armstrong, S. Pinker, etc.) without getting too off-topic or muddled down in details. Colorful analogies and examples abound.


What about Dennis Holland’s performance did you like?

I am always wary of readers compromising a beloved author's book. Here, Holland (who already sounds quite a bit like Dennett) speaks with personality and style that capture Dennett's wit and adds the punch it deserves. A+


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This book attempts to explain religion, not scold it. No play for emotions here, as in the tomes of his fellow "horsemen" (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens), the mood is that of a philosopher, calm, serene and much more respectful. (not that that's much of a competition) This is, perhaps, the best of the four for a believer taking their first skeptical view.


Any additional comments?

Recommended follow-up/ companion audio-book:The Evolution of God by Robert Wright. (read by another talented reader Arthur Morey).

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- Don Caliente

An excellent introduction to be origins of religion and belief

Excellent introduction to the objective study of religion and belief. Dennett is surely the most gentle of the new atheists, almost annoyingly so to someone like myself who read happily through Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens. I realize I am not the only audience here, however. Dennett doesn't spend much if any time making the atheism argument - the book is an intellectual defense of his proposed study of religion as a natural phenomenon. Rather than a book about atheism, this is more like a book on the lens through which atheists see the world and the great problems of civilization. I would definitely recommend Dennett to someone interested in non-religious thought, but for whom Harris/Hitchens/Dawkins might be to shocking at first.
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- sam

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-28-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios